Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Frederick Douglass: Rising Up From Slavery by Frances. E. Ruffin

If success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome, as Booker T. Washington said, then Frederick Douglass may be counted as one of the most successful humans who has ever lived.  That he survived, escaped, and outlived American slavery is remarkable, but overcoming these obstacles was only the beginning of what Douglass would go on to do for the rest of the world as a tireless advocate for freedom and equality.  

Ruffin’s thirteen accessible chapters of narrative non-fiction nicely summarize a complex and long life, supplementing Douglass’ accomplishments with one-page features of other luminous figures from history: Nat Turner, William Lloyd Garrison, Benjamin Banneker, Ida B. Wells; as well as some less well-known like John B. Russwurm and Robert Smalls.  Starting off with a timeline, and ending with a glossary, bibliography, photo credits and an index, this book is perfect for curricular explorations of non-fiction, African American history, and interdisciplinary studies of slavery, human rights, and the Civil War.  A perfect companion to the film Lincoln and a schema-building prelude to this year’s award-winning film Selma.  Student readers of biographies who have already enjoyed volumes on Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. may enjoy reading this book independently. --Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Ruffin, Frances E.  Frederick Douglass: Rising Up from Slavery.  New York: Sterling, 2008.

For the Library of Congress' rich collection of documents relating to Frederick Douglass, click here.

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